A student at Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park, Kansas is suing her former high school after being old she is “too dark” to be on a dance team. The incident is one of many where Black high school students are being bullied by adults who are allegedly supposed to be smarter.
ABC News reports, according to the lawsuit filed Dec. 5 in the United States District Court in Kansas City, Kansas, Camille Sturdivant was one of two Black dancers on the 14-person “Dazzlers” dance team. The site reports, “Back in July 2017, the team’s choreographer acted ‘on behalf of and in conjunction with’ the team’s coach, Carley Fine, to exclude Sturdivant from performing in an upcoming dance after allegedly making a comment that ‘her skin was too dark and the audience would look at her and not the other dancers,’ the suit state.”
Reportedly, she was also told her skin color clashed with the costumes. Her parents met with the school’s principal, Amy Murphy Pressly and they were allegedly told the couch can “pick whoever she wanted to perform in the dances.” However, Sturdivant did make the team and was allowed to dance, but said the coach was “dismissive” of her, according to the lawsuit.
In May, shortly before Sturdivant graduated, she was using her coach’s phone to play music for the dance team and claims she saw text messages from the coach about her receiving an acceptance letter from the University of Missouri and landing a spot on the school’s “Golden Girls” dance team.
The text messages reportedly read, “It actually makes my stomach hurt. Bc she’s f***ing black. I hate that.”
ABC News reports, “Sturdivant’s parents showed the text message exchange to the school principal, according to the suit. Fine was fired the following day and informed she could not be on school property nor have contact with Sturdivant or the other dancers, according to the suit. But Sturdivant alleges the former coach was seen several times at school and with the ‘Dazzlers’ since her termination.”
The lawsuit is asking for a jury trial and is seeking an unspecified amount in “actual damages, compensatory and punitive damages.”
The school district released the following statement to ABC News, “Respectful and meaningful relationships between staff and students are at the heart of Blue Valley’s culture. Discrimination of any kind has no place here. The District expects staff to treat all students with respect at all times, and any report that this expectation has not been fulfilled is taken very seriously. As stated in the Complaint, on May 1, 2018, Mrs. Sturdivant showed Dr. Pressly the text message between Mr. Murakami and Ms. Fine. Ms. Fine’s employment with the District was separated the following day on May 2, 2018.”
Sounds like the school should have taken care of this much sooner, especially after a student was told she is “too dark” to dance.